The first lamb for “Avengers: Endgame” to slaughter is “The Intruder,” a home invasion thriller where the invader cares deeply about the home. It’s hard to talk about this movie without talking about the positioning of its release. Weekend estimates indicate that the “hot” new film (of three new releases, and you’re lucky I’m not here to voice my displeasure with “UglyDolls”) did roughly one thirteenth of the domestic box office as the second weekend of the unprecedented overperformer. I have to wonder how much of its $11 million haul came from it being the second choice of “Avengers” turnaways. It certainly wasn’t the first choice of anyone who likes good movies.
Rich couple Scott (Michael Ealy) and Annie (Meagan Good) think they’ve found their dream home: a creaky old mansion overgrown with vines, far removed from Scott’s job in San Francisco, and available for just over $3 million. The outgoing owner is Charlie (Dennis Quaid), a swell-seeming guy who greets the prospective buyers by firing a gun in their direction. His target is a nearby deer, but it still gets the hopefully-friendly relationship off to a hostile start. Scott isn’t as crazy about the place (and Charlie) as Annie is, but “happy wife, happy life” and all that, so they take it. Eh, Charlie’s on his way out, so his unnerving presence won’t be a factor much longer.
Charlie’s unnerving presence remains a factor for a long time. He shows up uninvited to give the lawn a final mow. He shows up admittedly invited to Thanksgiving where he disapproves of some remodeling ideas and develops a distaste for Scott’s muscle-headed work buddy (Joseph Sikora). He shows up uninvited to advocate for guns in lieu of an electronic security system. He shows up uninvited to skulk around the woods. He shows up uninvited to leer at Annie. He shows up uninvited to wing Scott with his car. It is clear that Charlie isn’t ready to let the house go.
What isn’t clear is how exactly he intends to get the house back. I think his plan is to get rid of Scott and marry Annie so the two of them can live in the house together, but that seems like an awfully long game for a guy like him to play, and even in his twisted mind, does he really think that he’s that good of a seductor? He’ll probably have to settle for just eliminating both of them and… getting the house back through squatting, maybe? A more thoughtful movie would see Charlie try to get the terrified couple to sign the house back over to him, and this would lead to a series of mind games and calls for submission, but this is not a thoughtful movie. All we know is that he wants to get rid of Scott, and that is where the suspense and action lie.
Bad news: “The Intruder” is an awful movie, with stupid characters and a script ripped off from better stalker/home invasion movies. Good news: Quaid gives a fun, scenery-gnashing performance that fills the film with unintentional laughter. Bad news: A lingering scene of sexual assault undoes even the film’s accidental charm. Good news: the film goes by rather briskly and the credits hit before you know it. Better news: those record-smashing crowds for “Avengers: Endgame” are beginning to taper off, so you’re increasingly unlikely to have to settle for “The Intruder.”
“The Intruder” is rated PG-13 for violence, terror, some sexuality, language and thematic elements. Its running time is 102 minutes.
Robert R. Garver is a graduate of the Cinema Studies program at New York University. His weekly movie reviews have been published since 2006.